The crisis generated by the arrest of the first son of a former governor of Kogi State, Mohammed Audu, continued on Friday as the Audu family and the state government traded blame over the development.
The Audu Oyidi Royal Family of Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government area of the state, described the arrest and the arraignment as “political persecution of the highest order”.
The family accused the state government of masterminding the arrest for political purposes.
In a statement signed on behalf of the family by the Oregoh Attah of Igalaland, the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha, the family lamented the media frenzy that attended the arrest and arraignment of their son on trumped up charges that are politically motivated and affirmed their implicit confidence in his unimpeachable integrity.
It will be recalled that Mohammed, son of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship elections in the state was arrested and arraigned before the Chief Magistrates Court in Lokoja on Thursday for armed robbery, conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide.
The statement reads: “We are surprised with the news of the arrest and arraignment of the son of our late patriarch, Mohammed, on trumped up charges of armed robbery, conspiracy and attempted culpable homicide.
“We believe that Mohammed is a responsible man from a respectable background who would do no such thing as to bring disrepute to the name of our family. The story by his uncle, Yahaya, that he was attacked and beaten up and that the attack was masterminded by Mohammed is purely a family matter that should not have been politicised to this extent.
“Since the matter is already before a law court, we shall refrain from further comments for now but suffice to express our utter condemnation of the apparently coordinated media frenzy that attended the arrest and arraignment,” the family stated.
Also, stakeholders of the APC from the three senatorial districts of the state on Friday rose from an emergency meeting in Lokoja and condemned the arrest and arraignment of Mohammed.
According to Hon Kehinde Afolabi, who spoke on behalf of the group, it was unfortunate that members of the late Prince Audu’s family were being hounded and persecuted despite the political nightmare the family is going through.
“Why would people not allow the soul of the dead to rest well. Prince Abubakar Audu lived and did his best for Kogi State as governor. The least the authorities should do is not to persecute his family members but to encourage them.
“We hereby condemn in totality the show of shame where Mohammed was arranged on what we believe are pure trumped up charges aimed at scoring cheap political points. Kogi is currently passing through some difficult times politically and we are of the view that all hands must be on deck by the various stakeholders to keep the peace and not to disrupt it,” the statement said.
But the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has again dissociated himself from the ordeal of the first son of the former governor.
He said as a governor, he had no power to stop the security operatives from performing their duties of protecting the lives and properties of the people of the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the governor never ordered the arrest of Mohammed.
He said, “It is unfair to connect the arrest of Mohammed Audu to Lugard House. Since his inauguration, the present administration has accorded respect to the late political icon. The state-owned university was named after the late Prince Abubakar Audu and the state government also gave him a posthumous award for his contributions to the development of the state.
“The arrest of Mohammed Audu was an affair of the late politician’s family. We would not want to comment heavily on what is before the court because the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello holds the judiciary in high esteem.
“However, we must begin to separate criminality from politics. The fruitless attempt by our opponents to use the arrest to score cheap political scores has failed woefully because the people knew the facts of the matter.
“Yahaya Audu, younger brother to the late Prince Abubakar Audu was allegedly attacked and he mentioned the people behind the attack. It has nothing to do with the governor.
“We are laying down the gauntlet in Kogi State that nobody is above the law. Even the governor is not above the law. The law is no respecter of anybody, therefore, anyone caught breaking the law must be made to dance to the music.
“Kogi State government will continue to ensure the protection of lives and properties. The Governor was elected to ensure security.
“Governor Yahaya Bello will not be found interfering with the duties of security agencies.
“Kogi State belongs to all and the governor is working hard to make the state achieve its potential.
“We urge political opponents to embrace the spirit of a new Kogi State under the new direction, which frowns upon criminality and ethnic chauvinism. We are one people, united by destiny for prosperity and posterity.”